Curtis A. Barefoot
Born: 1951, place: Baltimore
Died: July 23, 2004.
B.S. from Bucknell University; M.S.from New Mexico Tech; M.S. Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D. (1980) mathematics University of New Mexico
Department Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematics at New Mexico Tech University
personal or universal URL: http://www.nmt.edu/~math/faculty/barefoot/curt.html
Curtis Barefoot was born and raised in Baltimore. Like African American Mathematicians Scott Williams, and Leon Woodson, he attended the excellent public high school called Baltimore City College. Apparently Amassa Fauntleroy and Daniel Outing went to the rival school, Baltimore Polytechnic High School.
From an obituary:
Yellow, his favorite color, is symbolic of sunshine and optimism, the latter a quality Barefoot had in abundance, even as he struggled against the insidious disease that claimed his life.
As word of his death traveled across the New Mexico Tech campus, students, faculty and staff remembered Barefoot as a kind and gentle man, and an excellent and dedicated teacher. Those feelings were further defined at the memorial service held in his honor.
Dr. Anwar Hossain, a friend and colleague of Barefoot, first met him in 1993, and in 1996 were fellow commuters in the vanpool that travels between Albuquerque and Socorro.
"He had an appealing personality and he was very friendly, which is a rare trait, so we began sitting together and enjoying the ride together," said Hossain.
"And soon we became good friends. Once we arrived on campus, we would sometimes walk around together on campus and talk about many things, including personal issues, as well as matters regarding the department."
Hossain said Barefoot never hesitated at the opportunity to make new friends, and that his geniality was infectious.
"Whenever he called me, his first remarks would usually be, 'Hey, guy, what's happening?'" Hossain said. The last time the two friends and colleagues got together was in the backyard at Hossain's home, with Barefoot's wife, Olga, and a family friend.
They sat outside by the pool under a sunny sky and chatted.
"That day I did not realize that this would be the last time Curtis would come to visit my home and meet my family," Hossain said. "As a person, he was very simple, honest and always optimistic. Although he is not with us, his good deeds will."
Barefoot was generous with his time, and patient with his students even those who weren't in his classes. One of those students was Suhaila Hossain.
"Dr. Barefoot was one of the few people who helped me understand math, especially trigonometry, when I was an Eldorado High School student," she said. "Countless times I have gone to people for help and never really understood anything. However, my experience with Dr. Barefoot was not like this.
"I remember that he would always be more than happy to help me," said Suhaila, adding that Barefoot was able to explain complex concepts in a way she could understand.
Suhaila spoke for hundreds of Barefoot's students when she said how much she appreciated "all the things he did for me, and I hoped that he knew how helpful he was to me."
Curtis Anthony Barefoot was born in Baltimore and graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1968. He earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1972 from Bucknell University, and two master's degrees one in computer science from John Hopkins University, and the other in mathematics from New Mexico Tech.
After receiving his Ph.D. in math from the University of New Mexico in 1980, Barefoot went to work for Sandia National Laboratories, before taking a professorship at UNM.
He also taught at the University of Colorado at Denver before joining the faculty at New Mexico Tech.
Mathematics was his first love and passion, and Barefoot also enjoyed playing classical guitar.
John Orman, a New Mexico Tech alumnus now working for the college as a software engineer, first met Barefoot at Sandia Labs, and later ran into him at a Bubonicon, an annual science fiction convention in Albuquerque.
"Of course, it never occurred to me then that I would ever be working at Tech, or that I would even take a class from Barefoot," Orman said.
Later, he learned from others that Barefoot was ill. Orman said Barefoot never complained, never appeared to be in pain.
"I would never have known how sick he really was except for what other people were telling me," said Orman. "But then he progressively missed more classes as the semester went on, so I knew things were getting worse.
"Dr. Barefoot was a very large guy with an even bigger heart, a good teacher, and an incredibly gentle and soft-spoken guy," Orman said. "He is one of those people you wish you had had a chance to get to know better."
Curtis is survived by his wife of 26 years, Olga, and his stepson, Ivan Begley. His family included a sister, many aunts and uncles and countless cousins.
references: math reviews, Dr. Barefoot web site.
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